Autumn Leaf Festival to be Commended at PA Wilds Awards Banquet

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DuBois, Pa. (EYT) – Clarion’s Autumn Leaf Festival will be recognized at the Event of the Year at Thursday’s Pennsylvania Wild Dinner and Awards Banquet in DuBois.

The Autumn Leaf Festival is an annual nine-day event that attracts more than half a million visitors to Clarion County to celebrate the season in the PA Wilds.

“It’s something that’s very humbling,” said Tracy Becker, Executive Director of the Clarion Chamber of Business & Industry. “To be doing this for 30 years and be recognized like this is an honor.”

“And, we don’t do just do it to give myself gray hairs, we do it for the community. We have a lot of partnerships to get this done, and we have about 500 to 600 volunteers who help make this happen. We have several business that sponsor the event and there’s always something going on.”

This year, ALF is celebrating its 64th Annual Autumn Leaf Festival from September 30 to August 8.

Outstanding Leader Award

The Jenks Township Supervisors will also be honored at the awards banquet for being the outstanding leader.

Forest County’s Jenks Township has been a leader in recreation asset development, and the board sees the tremendous economic opportunities that can result from this investment.

When they learned that a 73-mile rail trail could possibly go through Marienville, they started a movement to save the train station situated along the abandoned rail/future trail corridor.

Their dream of transforming the former B&O Railroad station into a trailhead and visitor information center is starting to take shape, and they received a mini-grant from the Lumber Heritage Region & PA Wilds Planning Team to develop a “trail hub” concept plan that could really bring this idea to life.

The following individuals and organizations are other winners of the PA Wilds Champion Awards:

Business of the Year Award – La Belle Auberge Bed & Breakfast and Emerge Healing Arts & Spa of Wellsboro, PA (Tioga County). Owners and innkeepers Jesse and Laura Lee Robinson purchased La Belle Auberge in 2016, carrying on a 25-year family history of B&B innkeeping. They utilize the messaging of “the Pennsylvania Wilds” in marketing literature, and the inn is a strong example of heritage preservation and community character stewardship.

Great Places Award – Cherry Springs State Park of Coudersport, PA (Potter County). Cherry Springs is one of the most unique destinations in the PA Wilds, and it attracts thousands of tourists each year who come to the park to see one of the best star-filled skies in the country. It is designated by DCNR as a Dark Sky park and also had been given a Gold Level rating by the International Dark Sky Association. It is one of the few places left in the Eastern United States where over 6,000 stars can be seen with the naked eye.

Conservation Stewardship Award (Group) –  PA Trail Dogs (Clinton County). In addition to providing maintenance of remote hiking trails in the PA Wilds region over the last 10 years, PA Trail Dogs has introduced thousands of outdoor enthusiasts, including hikers and trail runners to the PA Wilds region by way of the numerous backcountry trail events that they organize annually, including the Eastern States 100, the Hyner Challenge, the Rothrock Challenge, and the Prowl the Sproul 10K.

Conservation Stewardship Award (Individual) – Amidea Daniel (Clinton County). Amidea has worked for the PA Fish and Boat Commission since 2008 as an outreach/education specialist and statewide coordinator for the award-winning Trout in the Classroom program, which exposes students to cold water conservation and involves raising brook trout from eggs to fingerlings in a classroom aquarium to release into local streams. Her skills and dedication to the program have been a large part of the program’s success. To date, the program has been offered in more than 284 classrooms.

Great Design Award – Matt Schauer of Williamsport, PA (Lycoming County). Schauer has gutted and renovated over half a dozen buildings in downtown Williamsport with an unmistakable style that promotes themes and principles from the PA Wilds Design Guide for Community Character Stewardship that have now become case studies for the 2nd edition. A self-taught, passionate developer, this Lycoming County native works closely with entrepreneurs moving into his spaces to make them a unique fit and calling out history and heritage at the same time.

Artisan of the Year Award – Perry Winkler of DuBois, PA (Clearfield County). Winkler has been instrumental in promoting the arts in this region for many years as an artist, a mentor and teacher, a gallery owner, and the founder of a non-profit art education center. He is ceaseless in his efforts to raise community awareness of fine arts in our region and his personal work reflects his love of our area and the nature in the PA Wilds.

Inspiring Youth Award – Nate (Nathan) Wilson of Kane, PA (McKean County). Wilson, a seventh grader, is an inspiring PA Wilds youth entrepreneur, using natural resources to make a quality, local product with his business Nathan’s Maple Syrup. Nate was five years old when he first watched maple syrup being made, and after lots of experimentation and field research, he and his father built their “Sugar Shack,” officially launching Nate’s Maple Syrup in 2011. He has partnered with various organizations and individuals to tap trees, sell product, educate, creatively promote, and donate his maple syrup.

Best Brand Ambassador Award – Straub Brewery of St. Marys, PA (Elk County). Straub, an American Legacy Brewery, is the third oldest family-owned and operated brewery in the United States. Straub saw the value of the PA Wilds as a lifestyle brand. Nature tourism was helping revitalize the region and having a positive impact on the region’s communities – and Straub wanted to get more involved. Straub Brewery started to incorporate information about the Pennsylvania Wilds as a region and a brand into its sales and marketing strategy, sharing this background information with its extensive network of wholesalers and distributors across the region. The company intends to further promote the PA Wilds through the use of locally-inspired names for their beers.

The theme of this year’s awards dinner event is “Celebrating Community Character Stewardship,” tying in the PA Wilds Center’s unveiling of a new edition of the award-winning PA Wilds Design Guide for Community Character Stewardship. The guide, updated to include many great design examples from around the region over the last decade, was developed to help communities in the Pennsylvania Wilds be good stewards of their unique character as they experience economic development and growth.

The keynote speaker this year is Ed McMahon, currently a Senior Resident Fellow at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, D.C., where he holds the Charles Fraser Chair for Sustainable Development. McMahon is nationally known as an inspiring and thought-provoking speaker and leading authority on topics related to sustainable development, land conservation, smart growth, and historic preservation. His passion and expertise for community character inspire creativity and action.

For more information on the PA Wilds Center’s programs and services and to register for the dinner, please visit www.pawildscenter.org.

The Pennsylvania Wilds region includes the counties of Warren, Forest, Elk, Potter, McKean, Tioga, Clinton, Lycoming, Clearfield, Jefferson, Cameron, Clarion, and Northern Centre. 


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